Phillies’ home opener: How to fake it
Breathe, Phillies fans; the team’s no longer winless entering Friday's home opener against the Cincinnati Reds.
- As if that’s a big deal for this ball club, which proved its mettle last season.
State of play: The Phillies were two wins away from defeating the Houston Astros in the World Series. They splurged in the offseason, spending $400 million on five free agents, to put themselves in position to return to the Fall Classic.
Yes, but: The Phillies have hardly looked the part so far. They're 1-5 and lost their first four games of the season for the first time since 2016. It was only the ninth time in the last 124 years that they started 0-4 before beating the hated Yankees.
To the uninitiated, it seems like a good time to start panickedly ringing the Liberty Bell, right?
- That’s why we’re here – to get you primed and up to speed on the slow-starting Phils before the first pitch crosses home plate at Citizens Bank Park.
Catch up quick: The Phillies looked dead in the water last season, starting 22-29, leading to the firing of then-manager Joe Girardi.
- They turned to skipper Rob Thomson, who helped engineer one of the most improbable playoff runs in history.
- Bryce Harper’s iconic “swing of his life” home run against the San Diego Padres sent the Phillies to the World Series for the first time since 2009. They made freakin’ T-shirts about it.
- The Phillies shelled Houston pitcher Lance McCullers Jr., belting five home runs off the right-hander in a Game 3 win that gave them a near-vice grip on the series. They stumbled over the next three games to lose to the Astros in six.
What’s happened: Trea Turner, a do-it-all dynamo shortstop who played for the Los Angeles Dodgers last season, was the biggest offseason splash for the Phillies, who signed him to an 11-year, $300 million deal.
- The team also brought in starting pitcher Taijuan Walker and reliever Matt Strahm, who has seen his role evolve as the Phillies battle through injuries in their pitching rotation.
The big picture: The Phillies’ early-season tumults might have worried even some of the most seasoned fans.
- First baseman Rhys Hoskins tore his ACL in spring training and is out for the year. Star slugger Harper had Tommy John surgery in the offseason and is out until the All-Star break in July.
- The Phillies were outscored 37-12 in their four losses, and defensive stud and hypeman Brandon Marsh looked marshmallowy against the Yankees earlier this week.
If we’ve learned anything from watching the Phillies’ magical run last season, it’s that they take after their unflappable manager Thomson, a “baseball lifer” who appears as cool and composed under duress as a Navy SEAL.
What they’re saying: Despite a rough start to the season, Marsh summed up the mood in the clubhouse before the Phillies earned their first win.
- “I don’t see any frowns,” he told the Inquirer.
The bottom line: Turn those frowns upside down, Philly fans. Baseball’s back in town.
If you go: First pitch is at 3:05pm; tickets still available.
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